PCT SOBO DAY 56 – Hat Creek Rim

Burney Mountain Guest Ranch – campsite 25.1 miles. 2606ft up. 1102ft down. 

The room was dark and cosy and when my alarm went off at 6 I did not want to get up. It went off again at 10 past and we forced ourselves out of our beds. We told them we wanted breakfast at 6:30 so we should make an effort to be on time. 

Breakfast was delicious. It was a frittata thing with spinach cheese mushroom and peppers. With bacon on the side. There were also waffles but they had been made with flaxseed with really upsets my stomach so I thought it best to avoid those. 

After some general faffing about and some last minute playing with Lucky we couldn’t put it off anymore and we hit the trail at 8am. A late start. I hiked out with Catwater and left Crusher and Spice Rack sorting out their resupply. 

Everything on the trail is dry and spikey. We quickly pass the fish hatchery and the Baum lake powerhouse where there are a bunch of people fishing. Then we are onto the proper trail and we start our ascent onto Hat Creek Rim. The infamous hot, dry, waterless stretch of trail. We do cross a small creek but we already filled up at the ranch so I carry on. My first goal of the day was to make it to ‘Cache 22’ the water cache maintained by local trail angels at forest service road 22. See what they did there? I would never rely on a water cache but we have reliable information passed on by other hikers that there is about 100 gallons of water there. 

The trail is exposed all day. It gradually gets hotter and hotter. I wonder at one point if I have been transported to the Serengetti in Africa, it looks much the same and it feels just as hot! The trail gradually goes up and up, through shadeless fields and across some patches of lava until you get up onto the rim. The views are nice but somewhat limited because of a haze, which I’m not sure if it is smoke or a heat haze. 

About an hour before I make it to the cache I see a gross cow pond and say a little thank you to the people who maintain the cache that I don’t have to drink from that pond. 

The trail is full of animal tracks today and the smell of animals is in the air. I think I can see tracks of cows, elk, deer, various birds, and I think I see some coyote and cat tracks too. The cows, deer and elk (do you get elk around here?) are probably the ones making the trail stink, mostly of piss. Despite the abundance of tracks the only wildlife I see all morning are the lizards.  

I see one girl heading north who is section hiking. 

I make it to cache 22 at 2:30 after 17 miles. I have drunk 1.5l of my 2l I was carrying. I am very hot and head straight for the shade. Thankfully the water in the cache is cool and I fill up my bottle with a litre, I make myself drink the whole bottle before I leave. I have a lie down, take off my shoes and socks and eat some snacks while I wait for Catwater. 

A car pulls up and two guys come over to the cache, one works for the PCTA and the other works for Lassen National Park. They are checking the cache is being kept clean and tidy, which it is. If people abuse it and leave their trash there then the cache will be taken away, and it’s such a relief for hikers. I have a chat with them for a bit and then I go back to lying down. Catwater appears at 3:20 and we hike out at 3:50. An hour and twenty minute break!! Blimey! 

We have 8 more miles to go until the camp spot. It’s nice to have a buddy! If I was on my own I would be pushing big miles through here, 30 plus probably every day, and I would probably be hating it and hurting everywhere. Catwater is slowing me down in a really good way. I take breaks in the day and my legs don’t throb at all at night. 

We hike together for a bit, but I have developed some bad wind, probably from those refried beans in that burrito last night. I love refried beans but they don’t like me much. So I pull away, not wanting to fart in her face as we head down the trail. It’s one a minute. The trail is also quite dusty so it’s not nice for her to have to eat my dirt. 

The trail is still hot and exposed but as it’s September the sun is lower in the sky and it loses its intensity much earlier. Although it was hot all day I didn’t feel like the sun was that intense, I didn’t feel like I was burning at all. Now we are finally really going south instead of doing all that wiggling about the sun is beating down from the west all afternoon so I have to take some action. 

I see three cows next to the trail who all stare at me as I go by. With .8 miles to go I wait for Catwater to see if she wants to carry on or stop but we carry on and we are in camp by 7pm. A successful day considering we didn’t start until 8am. 

The sun is setting and looks beautiful. It’s still very warm so I set up my tent without the fly. I am unpacking all my stuff and I hear some rustling in the bushes. Uh-oh. What is it? It’s a herd of cows, well about 8 of them. The last thing I want is for them to come trampling through our campsite so we try and direct them away by talking to them. I would like to think our conversation worked but I think they were just heading in a different direction anyway. 

I haven’t seen the girls all day. My stomach is still bubbling away and I don’t feel hungry at all so I nibble on a few goldfish and settle in for the night. I look up at the stars and listen to the distant moos in the distance. At around 9:30 I become very hungry. It’s too late now. I just hope I can sleep. 

My tent is being a pain in the ass, the zip is broken so it will still zip up but only one way. I like the zip to be near my head for easy access but it’s now down my my feet. For some reason not having the fly on my tent is making me very nervous. 

I couldn’t sleep so I went through my schedule. I don’t know why I didn’t make a better plan earlier on because I have loads of time. Essentially I have three weeks to play with! All that stress for nothing!! 


I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Donate here.


One thought on “PCT SOBO DAY 56 – Hat Creek Rim

  1. I think I know where that campsite is, and as I recall, it was a nice stop for me last year coming up from Old Station. Just about the right distance for a good long day hike to Burney Falls the next day, which I short stopped at Wild Bird Cache (a surprise) . It was at peak comfort amenities with only a few section hikers, lots of magic of all sorts, and a hot bush shower plus cell phone recharging station. How great was that?!.

    Glad to see Cache 22 is still there and NOT trashed. I didn’t absolutely need the water or rely on it, but did camel up. I really enjoyed Hat Creek Rim, but see how it could be miserable, if terribly hot.

    That cow pond was very unappealing. Would have hated to take on water there.

    BTW, as of Oct 6th, a big rain (snow above 6000 ft) is moving through the Cascades. It looks like the same system that dumped snow on Etna Summit on Oct 3rd.


    It appears that the first the winter storm tracks are staying north of your present location, as you head south through the Sierra.

    Given the forecast, and on the spur of the moment, Sue and I drove to Rainy Pass yesterday afternoon to post a weather advisory for the last Nobo stragglers. Didn’t want them pressing onto Canada without knowing that there was a foot of snow forecast north of Rainy Pass. Hart Pass got a special mention in the National Weather Service report.

    Picked up one lone Czech Hiker standing at the trail head pondering what to do. Gave him an option to forgo a wet and cold night, and bring him home instead of hiking on. He had stayed at the Stehekin guest ranch the night before (only hiker there) and was unaware of the current weather warning.

    It was obvious, considering deteriorating conditions, he wasn’t likely to make his YVR flight on October 10th, so he took the Bellingham dry bed option instead. 🙂 We fed him, gave him a dry place to sleep and put him on an early morning bus shuttle to Seattle to see friends.

    Given how it has rained all night, it was a wise move. I feel for those that were caught north of Cutthroat pass, as they are sloughing through snow this morning, if moving at all.

    Don’t know if you remember seeing him, or had a chance meeting, as you went south, (Trail name “snowman”) but he had been posting a lot on the PCT group page. Interesting guy.


    Totally enjoying his experience, and hiking with a very inquisitive mind. Always asking question about what he was seeing…. I.E., what this animal, what is that bird, or what was that plant? He was very impressed with all the good replies he received from other PCT hikers.

    He was an environmental researcher who had been doing snow pack studies (thus ‘snowman’ trail name) in Utah for the past 2 years. He was NOT moving fast, and definitely smelling the roses as he went.

    He seem quite content to stop short and bail on finishing the PCT all the way to Canada. He had had a great hike through Washington up to this point, mostly perfect weather, so not complaining. Was a glass half full sort of guy. Thankful for what he experienced, and not moaning what he missed.


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